HOUSTON — Ariah Richards is working toward becoming an orthopedic surgeon. The 18-year old 2021 Cy-Fair ISD graduate wants to innovate a less invasive surgery procedure that would reduce the recovery time for her patients.
“I know my goals are ambitious, but they’re achievable if I put in the work,” said Richards during a Zoom interview in between her Rice University classes.
Richards is doubling-down on her determination after an investment in her future by the Greater Houston Frontiers Club.
She's the daughter of a Houston police officer and a human resources manager.
“I call it, I guess, the curse of the middle class, because you don’t qualify for government funding always, but you’re also not in a position where you can pay outright for tuition.”
She’s relying on scholarships like the one awarded by the Frontiers Club to fund her future.
“I was definitely determined to get the scholarship,” said Richards of the financial award that goes to some of the most talented high school seniors in Harris County.
The Greater Houston Frontiers Club is the largest chapter of a national service organization. Its mission is to ‘pay it forward,’ awarding dozens of students each year with scholarship money that can cover everything from tuition to transportation.
The application process is tough.
“We’re immediately putting you on the job front interview,” said club president Donnell Cooper.
Applicants are required to submit an application, essay, transcript, a list of their self-driven community service and, if they make it through enough rounds of the vetting process, must be interviewed by members of the Greater Houston Frontiers Club.
The vetting process is crucial because the scholarships are seen as investments in Houston’s future.
“The Greater Houston Frontiers Club does a great job of finding those students that have dreams and desires and are determined,” said Richards. “As members of the community, you’re going to eventually get a return on your investment by investing in students.”
Richards was among the 85 Harris County high school seniors who received a scholarship from the non-profit organization in 2021, an accolade all its own considering how many more students applied for the scholarship.
Before the pandemic, The Greater Houston Frontiers Club would work through about 150 applications each year. In the pandemic, the application pool has jumped to about 450 students.
Community donations drive how many scholarships can be awarded, which is why the Greater Houston Frontiers Club is aiming for $100,000 in community donations this year.
“I just feel extremely blessed that there are people out there that can see my dreams,” said Richards. “And even if they don’t know me, to just sponsor me and help support what I believe and what I will do in the future.”